March 10th, 2023
If you are a fairly regular reader of my blog, you may recall that for a few years in a row, Tim and I had the pleasure of a woodpecker family choosing the palm tree in our courtyard in which to build their nest. We enjoyed having them as "neighbors". They were endlessly entertaining. They must have liked us just as much, because each year, faithfully, they would return and build a new nest. It was a terrific arrangement. The woodpeckers looked a great deal like this guy in the picture above. (I didn't take this particular photo in our courtyard but rather, out in the forest, still same sort of woodpecker)
And then during the big hurricane last year, the tree came down. Not to worry, neither woodpeckers or the house were damaged in the fall, but the tree was gone forever and with them, our woodpecker neighbors. We were kind of sad to see them go. Glad we had the experience but, clearly, it's time was done. awww. ;(
Or so we thought!
We don't have woodpeckers anymore but we do have a new couple in our courtyard! These two:
Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal! The first time we noticed them, the mister was in the birdbath. Tim was the one who noticed and quietly called me over to the window to see. I grabbed my camera but they are wily birds and even though we were both absolutely silent and moved slowly, it was enough to scare them away. Still we saw him and I was tickled that there had been a cardinal in our birdbath. I assumed (though one should never) that he was just passing through, that it was a one and done experience.
Then as the days went by, more and more one or the other of us would catch the flash of brilliant red zooming through the courtyard and we changed our minds and decided that they must live somewhere near by. Nearby, heh. I'm giggling about that now.
Since we saw him more and more often, usually around the birdbath area I was determined to get a photo so I put the camera on the kitchen table so it was closer at hand. (the kitchen table is basically in the bay window in question). But no matter how hard I tried, regardless of how quick or quiet I was, I missed shot after shot. DANG!
My guess is that because these birds are so easily seen with their scarlet plumage, they are extra cautious which is very smart on their part. But makes it tough for me to capture a photo. So my new plan was to get them used to seeing me. I spent a little more time, lingering in the general window area, looking out, just seeing what there is to be seen.
And it worked. I began to observe how they spent their days. And it appears that they live in one of the bougainvillea that technically grow on the outside of the courtyard walls but are so full and tall now that they tower over the courtyard. The cardinals zip from bougainvillea to bougainvillea like a flash of red, only occasionally pausing long enough for me to, once in a while, snap a quick shot.
One day the missus kept flitting back and forth from the hedge under our bedroom window to the courtyard wall, just back and forth, back and forth. The bird version of pacing maybe? That was harder to catch but I sort of got a couple of photos
They are so fast that most of the pictures I took ended up looking a lot like this:
Just the tail feathers....
So Tim took pity on me and dug out his old tripod and set it up in the bay window for me. So much better! My camera was set up and ready to go at all times. Awesome! I had a great time observing and occasionally catching a particularly good shot.
Then Mrs. C discovered the side view mirror of Tim's car and fell in absolute love with her reflection. It is hilarious. There is really no good place to perch in front of that particular mirror, but she is determined!
She spends so much time there that occasionally, Mr. C gets tired of waiting for her to come home, and joins her there.
This new found birdie passion for the car's mirror means that I am out there frequently cleaning both the mirror and that side of the car, you understand. Where ever birdies hang out, they tend to leave their calling cards as well. messy messy messy.
The mirror thing, and by the way, I have not seen the male cardinal look into the mirror even once, but she is obsessed, reminds me of parakeets. At least when I was a kid, everyone that I knew who had a parakeet (must have been a fad then for there were lots of them) had a mirror in the birds cage. Those parakeets would dance and preen in front of the mirror and talk to it a lot. That's exactly what the female cardinal is doing. Do you suppose that parakeets and cardinals are related on some level? Hmmmm. Interesting.
ANYWAY, out with the woodpeckers, in with the cardinals and we are having a great time living in a bird retreat which was never our intention.
You know when we first moved here we saw lizards and bunnies and frogs, butterflies and dragonflies in the courtyard and that was just fine. We loved that these wild creatures felt safe and at home here and we were happy to share it with them. We heard birds in the trees all around us and saw them flying by, sometimes the larger birds would land in the yard or the driveway but it was just a pitstop. Having birds actually living right here has been an unexpected pleasure.
I wonder who will be moving in next?
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.